The Pine Bluff Police Department on Wednesday received permission to swap confiscated firearms and its aging Glock handguns for $68,000 worth of new, 9-millimeter pistols in a trade with a south Arkansas gun dealer. Pine Bluff Police Chief Ivan Whitfield also said the department would ask to replace its outdated car and handheld radios during the next budget cycle. The cost to replace radios for the entire department is $633,704.60, according to a quote solicited by the police, which could be paid off in annual installments over two, three or five years.
Finally, Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Department Chief Shauwn Howell said the department in the next five years will require a new fire truck and a replacement or refurbishment to Fire Station No. 4. The station is located in northeast Pine Bluff at 1201 Commerce Street, between East 10th Avenue and Belmoor Avenue.
An officer with the police department's training division said at a meeting of the City Council's Public Safety Committee that the department had reached an agreement with firearms dealer Blackwoods Gun Works of Magnolia. Under the agreement, the department would transfer to Blackwoods all of its current Generation 4 Glock Model 22 pistols, all unassigned firearms and all legally transferable firearms that are confiscated, surplus and obsolete.
In return, the department would receive 165 new Generation 4 Glock Model 17 pistols with night sights and a $300 credit for each of the Glock Model 22 pistols. The value of the new Glock Model 17 pistols is $68,000, the training officer said. It would also receive a credit for the surplus and confiscated guns based on their individual value.
The training officer said the Glock Model 22 pistols currently in use are eight years old and nearing the end of their 10-year operational lifespans. The new pistols have less recoil than the Model 22s, which should allow officers to be more accurate if they have to fire multiple shots. The smoother recoil should also help because the department has lately hired smaller officers, the training officer said.
Additionally, he said the trade would free up space in the department's evidence room, which is currently stocked full of confiscated firearms. Ammunition for the new guns is also less expensive than the current model. The training officer said the guns traded in would not be re-sold in Pine Bluff. Most will be re-sold out of state or destroyed and used for parts.
The Public Safety Committee voted to endorse the agreement and ask the city attorney's office to draw up legal documents for the trade. Alderwoman Thelma Walker and Alderman Bill Brumett commended the department for finding a way to replace its aging guns without spending money.
The Police Department will also request replacements for officers' handheld and car radios as the city prepares its 2018 budget, Whitmore said. The current Motorola radios are 12 to 15 years old, according to Lt. Derrell Ray. Motorola recently announced it would stop manufacturing the old model of radios, Ray said. After the company's six-month supply of replacement parts runs out, he said the radios will be unrepairable.
Motorola dealer Grace Communications offered a quote to Ray of $633,704.60 to replace the radios. Motorola Solutions, Inc. provided three leasing options to the department to pay for the radios. The first is a two-year lease term at 3.56 percent annual interest with an annual lease payment of $333,870.85. The second option is a three-year lease term at 3.59 percent interest and an annual payment of $226,579.81. The third option is a five-year lease term at 3.63 percent interest and an annual payment of $140,870.92.
Brumett asked Ray whether companies besides Motorola offered police radios. Ray said he looked at other options, but went back to Motorola because it has become “a staple of law enforcement safety.”
“We know it's stable and dependable,” Ray said. “We have a better working knowledge of them than other [models].”
Howell also told the committee it is time to start thinking about buying a new fire engine as well as a “significant upgrade to station 4 or a possible replacement.”
Howell suggested the city annually put aside funds to pay for the fire engine and the new station within five years. The department currently uses a reserve ladder truck that dates back to 1988, Howell said. The truck is typically used once per month when newer trucks are being repaired or having tires replaced. Fire Station 4 is small and has required modifications for trucks to fit, Howell said. It has a “hard turnout to get to the street,” he said.